According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are approximately 1.5 million Americans who are living with rheumatoid arthritis right now. Both men and women can develop it, but statistics show that women are almost three times more likely to suffer from the condition. If you have recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, or suspect you may have it, it’s imperative to learn all you can so you can find the best treatment plan for your specific needs.
Classed as a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis can severely affect a number of areas on a person’s body. While many people assume it just affects the joints, it doesn’t stop there. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect a person’s heart, lungs, blood vessels, eyes, and even their skin. When a person has rheumatoid arthritis, their own body turns against itself and starts attacking the tissue.
Over time, it can cause swelling which is exceptionally painful, joint deformity, and even bone erosion.
In the beginning stages of rheumatoid arthritis, typically the person may notice stiffness of the joints after activity or, in the morning, swollen joints, tender joints – joints that feel warm to the touch. Weight loss, fatigue, and even a fever are other common symptoms.
While each case is different, it tends to start in the fingers and toes; in other words, the smaller joints.
While doctors understand how rheumatoid arthritis develops, what they are unclear about is what actually sets off that motion or process. When a body’s immune system starts to attack the synovium, then the process begins.
Some doctors believe that genes play a big factor in determining whether or not you will develop it, while others point towards environmental factors and even certain bacterial viruses.
Because rheumatoid arthritis gets worse over time, leaving it is not an option. You want to get a proper diagnosis as early as possible, and then start up with an appropriate course of action. Treatment can include a medication such as NSAIDs and/or steroids, as well as physical therapy.
In severe or advanced cases, it may be necessary to have a surgeon repair or even rebuild the tissue that has been damaged. This will help to prevent more problems down the road.
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